The film business is a funny one, filled with all sorts of deals and contracts and double crossings and back stabbings and incidents of industrial espionage and, on occasion, a movie gets made. The news (via Variety) that Disney, proud new-ish owners of the Marvel brand, has bought the worldwide marketing and distribution rights to 'Iron Man 3' and 'The Avengers' from Paramount for $115 million may not be the most vibrant, colorful and exciting piece of news to hit the world of film today, but it sure is an interesting and surprising one.
What does this mean? It means that while Paramount will still have a hand in releasing 'Captain America: The First Avenger' and 'Thor,' they are officially out of the picture when it comes to future Marvel Studios productions, giving Disney an incredibly desirable monopoly on all things Marvel superhero ... unless they're Spider-Man, the X-Men, Daredevil or any of the other characters wrapped up in deals with other studios. Even 'Iron Man' and 'Iron Man 2' will remain under the Paramount banner, meaning that wacky rights issues now extend beyond character use and into a film-by-film basis.
The article also gives the still-in-the-embryo-stage 'Iron Man 3' a release date: May 13, 2013. Mark your calenders, fanboys!
Says Paramount chief Brad Grey:
"Five years ago, when Paramount and Marvel made our initial deal, both our businesses were in very different places...We are grateful for the partnership we have had with the terrific Marvel team over these years and proud of the work we have done together. Today, this new agreement is the right deal for Paramount, for Marvel and for Disney."
In other words ... that $115 million looked really, really sweet.
It will be strange to see the Disney logo on a live-action movie that doesn't involve sentient VW Bugs or Captain Jack Sparrow, and even stranger to see "Walt Disney Pictures Presents" before a film about a man in a metal suit and his super-powered compatriots punching villains into the cosmos. Hopefully, Disney recognizes that something that isn't broken does not need to be fixed and will let Marvel go about its merry way, but only time will tell.
In the meantime, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers will be in the tent next to Mickey Mouse's at Disneyland, ready to give out hugs, sign autographs and pose for pictures with children of all ages. Is this the beginning of an era or the end of one? That's something you can hash out in the comments below.